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tv   Turn Away Thy Son  CSPAN  September 23, 2017 4:00pm-5:09pm EDT

4:00 pm /citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend. >> this weekend marks the integration of little rock high school. in 1967, nine african-american students were prevented from entering the school. president eisenhower sent federal troops to allow students to attend. author elizabeth jacoway talks about her book "turn away thy son," about the events that lead up to that day. she was a central high school student at the time of the integration. her talk from the university of arkansas is just over one hour. >> good evening.
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"turn away thy terrence roberts was the best student in a group of nine, and perhaps for that reason he was to become one of the main targets of the segregationists. his father was a navy veteran and a dietitian. his mother was a caterist. the large roberts family were seven-day adventists and very religious. terrence's father attended meetings all summer discussing integration, but remained ambivalent about his son's attending central until the governor's actions made it a matter of principle. when newsmen asked terrence if the naacp had pressured to him attend central, the idealistic 15-year-old responded, quote, "nobody urged me to go. the school board asked if i wanted to go. i thought if i got in, some of the other children would be able
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able to go and have more opportunities." on september 25th, 2007, terry roberts, the other eight members of the little rock nine, and the world, will return to little rock to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of little rock central high school. i had the privilege of helping coordinate the 40th ceremony in 1997. among the many things associated with that commemoration, i accompanied terry roberts when he saw the central tigers play basketball for the first time. you see when terry was at central, the african-american students not only couldn't play sports, but they couldn't even attend the games. as many in this room already know, central high school is a special place to our family.
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all of our children graduated there, and i have spent many years questioning why at a school in little rock, arkansas did america face its most challenging constitutional crisis since the civil war? betsy jacoway's book, "turn away thy son," is a powerful, compelling, and at times heart-breaking story of what did happen and most importantly, why it happened. to me, the most revealing part of her book is on page 228 when she writes, quote, "the lengthening chronicle of harassment of the nine led "new york times" reporter gertrude samuels to suggest the mob has moved inside the school." betsy's book takes us inside central high school in a way no one has ever done before. when
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when you read this very well-researched and documented account, you will witness the depth of the abuse and how some in authority actually tolerated it. this book is rich, it does not shy away from controversy, it challenges conventional wisdom, it makes some people and some families uncomfortable, but most importantly, it causes people to think, to react and to engage in this much-needed and continuing dialogue. after all, there are still many people who have yet to come to grips with this story and don't yet understand it. betsy grew up in little rock, graduated from the university of arkansas, earned her ph.d in history at the university of north carolina. she now lives in newport, where her husband tim is an attorney and where they have raised their family. she has taught at the university of florida, ualr, at lyon college where she and i now
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serve together on the board of trustees. i am skip rutzherford, past president of the school board, now dean of the arkansas clinton school of public service. ladies and gentlemen, the author of "turn away thy son", betsy jacoway. [applause] betsy: thank you. thank you, skip, for that wonderful introduction. i want to thank patrick kennedy and nicolai for all their work to make this evening happen. i want to thank the clinton students for inviting me to be here tonight, and i especially want to thank all my dear friends that i'm seeing out in the audience who are here to share with me this exciting story. and one of the first times i've talked about it publicly and
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shared my findings with the world. i was saying to a young woman a minute ago, this has been like my third child. i've nurtured this for 30 years, and i've been very paranoid about having other people steal my thunder, so i haven't talked about it. and now my baby is out there in the world for everyone to appraise, so it's a little scary. ok, we all know the standard textbook treatment of what happened in little rock in 1957. the little thumbnail sketch in every high school textbook is that the opportunistic governor
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of arkansas, orval faubus, called the national guard to keep the nine black children out of central high school for his own advantage, for his own political gain. if it had not been for orval faubus, according to the story, the schools would have integrated without difficulty. and little rock was certainly prepared, and that should have all gone off without a hitch. it has been my experience that few people in little rock or elsewhere know anything much beyond that story. that little thumbnail sketch. there's very little depth of understanding of what happened here. once i began to probe and ask questions, i began to realize that everybody was kind of embarrassed that they didn't know more about this story, they somehow thought everybody else did, but somehow they had missed out and just didn't really know how it all fit together. what i have found is that the real story of what happened in little rock was consciously suppressed at the time. the story was distorted consciously, and that's why we don't know what happened here , because it was a conscious effort on the part of a number of people to keep the truth from
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being known. one of the distorters was our old heroic figure, harry ashmore, editor of "the arkansas gazette," and the gazette won two pulitzer prizes. harry is one of the courageous figures who stood up to bad old
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orval faubus. how can i say that? the other distortion in little rock was the fbi. in september of 1957, the fbi was sent in to little rock to investigate what was happening here. harry ashmore told the people in the justice department what he was telling everybody, that was a manufactured crisis, the editorial he wrote was the crisis mr. faubus made. so i think, i really believe -- although i don't write this because i don't have proof for it, but i think they wanted to arrest orval faubus. i think they were trying to catch him in these lies. when the fbi came in and did 500 interviews between september 4 and september 14th, 87 of those interviews talk about rumors of violence or threats of violence
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that the interviewee had heard about. because the interviews did not reveal what the fbi was hoping to find, that report was never released. it was suppressed, and although it sat on the judge's bench during one of the key trials and , and there had been a lot of media hype about how that fbi report was going to prove that faubus was wrong, he never alluded to the report. i think it's because he knew that if he did, if he used it on appeal, which would happen, he would have to make it available to lawyers on the other side. and so that report was suppressed. thank goodness tony fryer, a scholar out at ualr, used the freedom of information act to get it. just one year before the 25-year statute of limitations would have caused it to be [inaudible]
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so we have it, and it has been the source of much of the juicy information in my book. i encourage anyone who has got a sturdy constitution to go out to ular to look at it. it is huge, bulky, poorly organized, really inaccessible , and i think that's on purpose. because the fbi really didn't want people reading it. you have to read it all the way through and really hang in there to make sense out of it, but the investment is worth the time. that's where i got lots of my good, juicy stuff. i also want i also want to suggest and i do in my book, that not only is the story, has the story of the little rock crisis been distorted, but it's also wrong. and i want to tell you a little bit of why the standard mythology, standard treatment is wrong. now, i want to back up for a minute and tell you where i came from in all of this. as i say in the preface to my book, i was 13 when the crisis broke. i was totally mindless, i lived up in the heights in a culture that encouraged little girls to
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be cute, and my daddy said frequently, "little girls aren't supposed to think about unhappy things." and so i didn't. i didn't know anybody at central high school. i wasn't going to go to central high school. we didn't have a television. i didn't see those images, and somehow that whole thing just went by me. i knew it was happening, but i had no idea of what the issues were. what is even more astonishing to me now as i look back on it, my family was closely related to several of the major players, and they were in and out of my house. and yet none of this was ever discussed in my presence. and i'm almost conspiratorial about that. i think that the idea that was the little girls and the women weren't supposed to think about those things. so i really, when i finally went to graduate school and came in to the real world, and i only went because my daddy made me go
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-- at that point, i was a very good little girl, actually i always was, but he forced me to go, insisted that i go and i went. and i discovered, to my horror, in a course on the south since reconstruction all of the kinds of things that white people had done to black people in the south. that i had never heard of, that i didn't know anything about and at first i was unbelieving. i thought i would have heard of some of this. i mean this can't be true. and then it began to dawn on me, i lived through one of the major events of american history, the little rock crisis, and i've never asked any questions about it. and i know all these people. i i wonder if maybe i could go home and write about this. so i went home and told daddy that i was going to write about the little rock crisis. and he said "no, you're not."
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he was still practicing law, and he knew that that would stir people up, and he was not going to have it. so i didn't. thank goodness i found another topic that was great -- and i'm making this much too long -- but the bottom line is when i finally did come around to study the little rock crisis, i knew little about it. almost nothing. largely for the same reason that most people don't know much about it, there just wasn't much out there that was really useful. but i had been working under george tindall at chapel hill
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and learned how to be a historian. i had dissertation which covered a safe south carolina topic where everybody was dead. and that was much easier. but dr. tindall had stressed that the way to write history is not to go out and read whatever else has read about the topic that you're interested in. and you don't do that because if you do that, then you're simply going adopt their point of view, you're going adopt their constitutions, you're going to ask their questions. so he said what you do is you go out and you read in the primary sources, you go to archives and you read people's papers, you read their letters, you read their diaries if they wrote them. you read the public documents that came out of that period. takes a lot of time. and that's ma
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lot of time. you go to the brooks hayes papers, you don't know much about brook hayes, you don't know much about what he was involved in. you start reading his mail, and it gets really interesting, but you don't know what it is you're really collecting here. and you have a general idea of where you want to go with this, and so you start taking copious notes, and questions begin to come in to your mind about the material you're gathering. and sure enough, you begin to form your own ideas and conclusions about what was happening here. so i spent the year of 1976 on a grant going all around the country reading other people's mail. i really had a wonderful time doing it. it wasn't until i guess 10 years ago that i started reading the secondary literature, and everybody knew i was writing a book about the little rock crisis, and i was terrified that somebody was going to start pinning me down about so and so said such and such and i didn't want to have to give this whole speech about why you don't read the secondary material.
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but after, by the time i got to all the secondary material, i already knew what i thought had happened. and it was a much better strategy. the one other major maxim of george tindall, he had a clio's deck log. clio is the muse of historians. in his 10 commandments of the muse, number nine is thou shall not pass judgment on mankind nor pardon any man or woman for anything. thou may seek the reason for error but neither text skews nor the blame, vengeance is mine , sayeth the muse. so those are the two key points that i went out in to the world trying to research this topic. one that i wanted to form my own conclusions and two, that i was not in the business of passing judgment. so some people have criticized me for not being harder on the segregationists or not being, you know, praising the good guys and damning the bad guys. but i don't think that's what my job is. my job is to gather the material in as full and balanced and fair way as i can and tell the story fully. and it's up to you as an intelligent reader to draw your
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own conclusions. ok. so let me tell you what did happen here, and the story is very complicated and it can be confusing. so pay attention. [laughter] betsy: this is, i'm going to try to compress in to 10 minutes what it has taken me 30 years to sort out. so let's have a romp through this stuff. all right. you know the brown decision was handed down in 1954 that said separate and equal didn't work. had you to have integration. but the brown decision did not say integrate immediately. they said we're going to send this material back to the local, to the states, and we're going to let them submit arguments about how we should go about integrating.
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so virgil blossom was new superintendent of schools in little rock. he had just integrated in fayetteville. they only had six black kids up there, so he thought piece of cake. i can go to little rock, show them how to do it. eaves school he was this school man who was on top of the decisions that were coming down through the supreme court, through the court system, and he knew intergration was coming. the very week the brown decision was handed down, blossom called together his school board and he told them, we are going to have to do this. we are going to have to integrate, so we might as well just step out front and do it voluntarily. he had some strong segregationists on that school board who didn't run the next time. and they had some concerns about it, but strong-willed man, he persuaded those people that they needed to issue a public statement in may of 1954 that
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they were going to comply. so they did. blossom went all over. first of all, he had meetings with all kinds of public groups trying to sell the idea and gather information for how they should proceed in little rock. his first thought was that they should integrate at the first grade, but he immediately found that the parents were most concerned about letting little bitty kids integrate when they hadn't already formed their racist views. they wanted to maintain racial purity, this separation of the races, so they persuaded blossom that he should start at the high school level where these views had already been formed. so he, blossom, gives about 200 speeches around the community , and he thinks he has prepared the community. all the signs are that the community is willing to accept integration. in the summer of 1956,
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segregationist firebrand jim johnson ran against orval faubus. johnson's whole campaign was about maintaining segregation. faubus was a populist, progressive, a liberal, his father was an old mountain socialist, his made dl name was eugene, he was named for eugene v debs, socialist candidate for president way back. faubus had . faubus had no history of racism, didn't even see black people until he was 23 years old. but he was a politician, could see which way the wind was blowing. the stronger jim johnson talked, his racist line, the more faubus got pushed to the right. by the end of the campaign, faubus heard himself saying to , to his own horror, no school system will be forced to spe integrate against its will as long as i'm governor. there he made the promise.
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in the fall, although jim johnson was soundly defeated, only carried 7 counties out of 75, and that seemed to be to everybody just a clear endorsement of integration, that this was going to proceed, still johnson had a very strong following, and he got an amendment to the constitution, to the arkansas constitution on the ballot in november of 1957 -- 1956, in which he said, i mean he said it was so strong it would kill corny high. he said it was really too strong for me. it was actually, i think, in large part written or influenced by strong segregationists from the deep, seep south. but what that amendment said, it was called the interposition amendment, it said that the governor should have the power to interpost the power of the state between the citizen and the power of the federal government. and that in case, in the case, in the event that integration was demanded, the governor could actually resist. now, this was only going to work if johnson was governor, because he would have resisted, but this won by huge margins in the election in november. and faubus took note that that
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is what the people want. the people do want to resist integration. in the winter of 1957, the legislature was in session and , and four laws got passed by the legislature that called for ways to preserve segregation. faubus knew the laws were not going to stand up. he knew that federal lawsuit precedes state law, but he was a politician, and he knew that since those laws are on the book , and since he as governor is sworn to uphold the laws of the state of arkansas, he has to have a court test of those laws and have them declared unconstitutional before he can say to the people, "you know, i did everything i could, but i can't defy the law." as long as those laws are on the books and they're untested, he's
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in trouble. so faubus knew this whole integration issue was dangerous, didn't want to have figure to do with it. so when blossom begins to panic in the summer of 1957, when the capital citizens council, the strong segregationist group really starts a huge campaign in the summer of 1957, and starts badgering faubus in the news, the school board panics, and especially virgil blossom panics. they knew each a long time, worked in education together in northwest arkansas. blossom starts going to see faubus every day, calls him six times. faubus says he badgered him, "shadowed me, became a nuisance because he was always there saying what are you going do? are you going to help us if there are difficulties, if there is violence in the fall? will you call out the national guard to enforce integration?"
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faubus says no, i'm going to enforce integration. this is your plan, virgil, this isn't my plan. i don't want to have anything to do with it. my view has always been hands off. my view has always been if a community wants to integrate, that's fine, they can integrate, i'm not going to stop it. but if they don't want to integrate, i just said in the election last summer, no city will be forced to integrate against its will. so many things happened through the summer to increase blossom's panic. he takes a bullet through his kitchen. he takes a bullet through his car door. his wife picks up the phone and her life is threatened. he is threatened daily on the telephone that his daughters will be killed. that his house will be bombed, any one of us would panic.
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and he was a big guy who was used to pushing and getting his way, and he thought if he just pushed orval faubus hard enough he could make that man yield to him. well, in all these exchanges between faubus and blossom during the summer, blossom began to develop an understanding of faubus' position and why he didn't want to be involved, why it would be political suicide for faubus to get involved. and he realized that what what faubus needed was a delay so that these, so a court test could be launched to test these four arkansas laws. enter upton. upton met with federal judge john miller, pulled him aside and said, "judge, if a case is brought, and i'm not saying that there will be, but just if, a
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case is brought to your court in which a case has been, has been successfully tried in a state court, granting an injunction against the school board for integration in little rock this fall, would you uphold that injunction?" and john miller, completely unethically, says, "yes, i would." and in fact discusses with him how this case might be drawn. so upton comes back to little rock, tells blossom this. blossom says oh, my gosh, this is wonderful. i mean i had no idea. blossom and upton go out to see faubus, tell him about this and , and they all kind of get in this together. and blossom persuades favre us -- faubus about on the plaintiff for the case. i told you this was confusion. it is.
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this is very complicated, and you really have to sort it out. but what we have going on here in a nutshell is that the school board or part of the school board is now engaging in a plan to sabotage its own plan of integration. for all kinds of reasons that i talk about in the book, they didn't want to just come out in the open and say, "we're afraid of violence, and we therefore want to go to the federal judge and ask for a delay." but that is in essence what was going on. they were terrified of violence. they talked about it all the time. they told faubus about it all the time. they called bill smith over to blossom's house. bill smith was faubus' lawyer, showed him a drawer full of knives taken away from students in the lockers, and this was all in preparation in case integration happened. so everybody is getting panicky
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here. i said 10 minutes, and i think i might be already over that. they do get a case worked up. murray reid was chance -- sorry, judge, a faubus appointee. they come up with a plaintiff to file a suit for an injunction in state court to sue the school board and get an injunction against them to stop integration. this goes before murray reid. blossom goes out to the mansion the night before and says please, orville, testify. orville has been subpoenaed, but at this time a governor doesn't have to respond to a subpoena. so orville thinks he's doing virgil a favor, and he thinks he's doing the school board a favor, so he says ok, i will testify. the next day he comes in to court, a little late, seats himself over on the side and virgil blossom is giving his testimony. and the lawyer for the school board, archi house says mr. blossom, are you concerned about violence in little rock in the fall, in september?blossom has y single night telling about all
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these rumors of violence. pompous is there saying what? this is a change in strategy. they have not told me about this, but they're going to explain this to me. fubus tells about his concerns about violence and the judge says there is a danger of violence. the lawyer has prepared for this contingency and he walks straight from the courthouse to the federal building. he goes in to see the federal judge, who was supposed to be john miller and was supposed to uphold this injunction. as soon as john miller heard that murray read had handed down
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this injunction, he recused himself. have a new judge in the courthouse who had been in town for three days, he was from north dakota. he did not have black people in his constituency, yet never thought much about the problems of integration. he was a new jurist and he was nervous about this whole situation very this was one of his first assignments and he drew a big one. some people have said, why in the world would judge miller are lots ofthere explanations, but i think it is interesting that was on friday, on sunday it was announced in the arkansas biz that that senator mcclellan had introduced a bill that would expand the eight circuit court of appeal and add another judge and the lawyers they were suggesting should be added was john miller.
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he knew he did not want to hurt his chances. orval goes into a panic, he is now twisting in the wind. i feels he has been betrayed virgil blossom and the little rock school board. he feels he has been betrayed by the federal judge because he had also had a fishing trip with john miller and that got the .ame commitment he had called the justice department three times asking manhelp and they had sent a down who was in arkansas native he told him there was nothing the federal government could do. there is story behind that. s sends his state police
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out to do investigations over the weekend and find out how much danger of violence there is. at the same time, the segregationists led by jim johnson mounted telephone allaign and badger faubus weekend with threats of violence. are tell him terror bands headed to little rock with armed men, they tell him all kinds of things, most of which were not true. from rumors he was hearing, bill smith came in, he told bill smith he had lived a good life and he was old and he felt so strongly that integration was wrong that if it proceeded to next tuesday as planned keep land to take his gun to central high school and kill as many as -- as manys many as of those black kids as he could before they got to him.
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that type of story faubus was hearing. he called his lawyer bill smith to come into his office and he said i've decided to use the national guard did -- to use the national guard. i've decided i'm going to stop integration. bill smith tried to talk him out of it. you need to wait until there is violence before you take an action like this. if i did that,l, just think how i would feel if years down the road or months down the road a mother came and sat across the desk from me and said governor pompous -- you said youus, were worried about the danger of violence, was that really a concern of yours, and i would have to say yes. she said if you it acted my
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child would still be alive. acted my child would still be alive. he said i cannot live with that. some in the group have said you that iselieve him something he manufactured later, bill smithf excuse also told that same story in his interview with the eisenhower administration project, and i felt like there was an element of truth in it. he called out the national guard , surrounded central high school, the bard had no written orders on that first day or it they were not ordered to keep the black children out of central high school. they were ordered to keep the peace. faubuswas just smart enough that he knew you should not put something in writing that was
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going to get him in trouble. it was the open defiance of the federal government. he had not issued an order that integration should not proceed, just that piece should be maintained. overnight he changed that stance and he did issue a written orders to the bard -- written orders to the bard -- written orders to the guard. was hoping that he would take this stance of defiance by calling out the guard and that eisenhower would immediately federalize the guard . that is probably what eisenhower should have done. if eisenhower had federalize the federalized the guard,
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there is some question about whether those arkansas boys would have obeyed. --enhower made us from it made a tremendous decision when he sent the army and that conjured up visions of reconstruction. it was horrifying cap troops in an american city and around an american school. that action hardened the segregationist sentiment so much that it became a tremendous clinical liability to eisenhower -- a tremendous political liability to eisenhower and he started trying to get those troops out of here. i think he would've been much wiser to simply federalize the guard. that would've let faubus off the hook, they would've had to beef up plans, but i think it would have been a much better solution. weight -- where are we? i am already over.
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ashmore, why am i saying that he was a part of the problem when obviously he was a part of the solution? ashmore had just written his magnum opus, here just written the book yet wanted to write for years. in the month of june of 1957 he sat in his office and put the finishing touches on a book he called an epitaph for dixie in which he argued that change is inevitable in the south. we have all these forces working -- and, mechanization of agriculture, urbanization, movement of lack population out of the rural south. all of this is going to lead to integration. it is going to lead to a change in the southern culture and it is inevitable. we are not going to have violence in the south because the south businessman are not
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going to allow it worried the businessmen know that the hope for the south is to attract northern industry down here. they know that if they have problems in thriving they are not going to attract industry. , he sentrote this book it off to norton press, he took a month vacation and when he came back to little rock, his city editor was out because shelton's wife was dying. in august, harry ashmore had responsibilities for the news function as well as the .ditorial function he had been out of the state the year before working for adelaide stephenson and he missed that whole summer campaign between jim johnson and faubus.
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his ego was on the line at that point. yet just written this book that made what has become a false claim. it infuriated him that orval nowous -- orval faubus would not follow his lead and do what he told him to do. ashmore had a deep love for the democratic party and described it somewhere as my own true love. waselieved that what faubus about was a third-party vote, ine the dixiecrats had done 1948. faubus would lead a movement that would only hurt the democratic party. i think ashmore was trying to strong-arm faubus by writing editorials about the crisis while he knew some of the inside
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stories about these maneuvers with the federal judge, he knew that the school board had gone wobbly and he still was trying to badger faubus. i think if ashmore had dealt a lighter hand, the story could have ended up differently. that is one of the reasons i give ashmore a hard time. this,sult of all of between ashmore and the fbi is that the story has been distorted and suppressed and i think that fits a lot of people's agenda. when i was on a planning committee at central high, i thought naively i am the historian, they want all of my information. there were so many agendas around that table i cannot
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believe it. everyone wanted to make sure was aunt or uncle so-and-so cast in a good light and that the story got told the way they wanted it told. i think the agenda of a lot of people and little rock has been it is a lot easier to put all the blame for the little look -- for the little rock crisis on one evil man, to blame orval faubus and therefore we can say we would have done it without his intervention, little rock was prepared and we were moving ahead. that is a lot easier to do than andxamine a racist culture assume responsibility for the changes that have to be made in people's hearts before we can approach anything resembling equity in our society. [applause]
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>> i told you the book was rich and we -- and she did not shy away from controversy. do not ask a question until you have the microphone in your hand. i do not know where everyone is with the microphones. raise your hand. >> with all the research you
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have done in the past in bringing out what happened and with usere today together in this room, how are we today compared to then? in some ways we are better. largely because many white people have examined their consciousness and their heart that thedecided suppression we lived under for 300 years would not do. on the other hand, i am not sure we have, all that far -- i'm not sure we have come all that far. our schools are re-segregating. we have white flight in this community. we have major problems in some
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of our school systems and i think the source of that problem is the racism that continues to affect the hearts of many white people. >> you selected the subject of your book, it has a biblical reference. , the you explain that second is now that we are going have weanother -- learned anything from when we were trying to understand african-americans and european americans in arkansas?
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you ask such easy questions. the title of my book is drawn from deuteronomy which is a biblical injunction against debtor marriage. are talking about religious differences, my editor thought we could use a little literary license and talk about racial differences. the reason i wanted to highlight was astonished as i conducted my research at every's day job the process of the little rock crisis what i found -- over andr a gann over again are articulated fears of race fixing. southerners have always been so mannerly that we do not talk about sexual concerns openly. in the heat of the civil rights concerns the sexual
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rose to the level of verbal speeches, in in ads in the newspaper, in letters , it is clearly articulated that what integration will lead to is intermarriage. hadirony is that white man always had access to black women for 300 years. what the segregationists were talking about was the danger of giving black men access to white that was the fear going to lead to the destruction .f white civilization i felt that was -- this is not new to me. as you study southern history you will find that almost every episode, almost every
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what is at the heart of discussions about race relations is this sexual element. i was sensitized to that in my graduate study but i was surprised when i began to lead the material -- when i began to read the material in these archives and found it so clearly spelled out. >> let's get the microphone back here. my name is meredith ross, betsy you were in a class with my sister. i was nine years old at the time and i had a different perspective than you are sharing. was the ku klux klan, i cannot understand why people could be so insensitive of other people. it seems very hard to me.
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i do not know this is in your book but we had a small house and as a nine-year-old i was back in the hallway listening to him interviewing people in our living room. i was a little girl and fairly polite and the discussion was amongpen and our home and friends that i had. i am sharing this. we all had different experiences . the signs that said white people, black people, or horrifying to me as a child and that was the horror that i experienced and my family talked about. we looked at other examples in history of discrimination. elizabeth: both of your parents were fairly involved on the side
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of racial justice from the start. it needs to be said you are jewish and that gave you a different perspective. i thought recently, it was just 10 years since the holocaust at this time and it had to be terrifying to see these kinds of attitudes being expressed toward black people. right, i absolutely feel that whether it is hispanic or whatever, it is hard for me to keep thinking that what difference does it make, why is it so hard to get it? my background gave me some insider perspective that was but it seems like that was the hardest thing to comprehend. more questions, we are trying to get everybody. this.ived through
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i worked for a congressman at the time. did you find any reason to think had donel faubus this because he was getting ready to run for a third term and he had been considered a liberal, as we all know, but all of the sudden he was interested in running for a third term and known in arkansas history to cope with the eastern arkansas people who were much more concerned about this than southwestern arkansas or northwestern arkansas. did you find any evidence of the
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fact that it might have been a political maneuver that got out of hand? elizabeth: sure. talked abouthad the possibilities of running for a third term. there are been political cartoons in the papers laying that out. he told me and he told other interviewers that he had thought a lot about it. he was not sure he wanted to run for a third term. what he really wanted was the seat in the senate. fulbright was not going to be up for election until 1962, so he was trying to figure out how to fill that gap. he was considering a whole bunch of things. myself that hed did not settle on running for a third term until after the little rock crisis when he called jim johnson in and said
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i've decided i'm going to run. jim thought he was the heir apparent, and we will work to get you on the supreme court. when i have read this book, and when i finished reading the book i.e. male about 34 questions and she responded mailed about 34- questions and she responded promptly. what went on inside the school was worse than the story that has been told. there are some that of been -- there are some that say the white kids at central in 1957 were heroes because they did not do anything, they did not shove, they did not push, they did not hit, some would say we do not even know this was going on.
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your story says things were happening that even the principal did not discipline fairly. were the white kids who did nothing heroes? elizabeth: you are really putting me on the spot. obviously. they were not heroic for silence. you have to keep in mind, it is that culture we were living in at the time. little girls were not supposed to think those kinds of things. it is hard for us to remember that kids were much more under control then than they are now and more responsive to their parents wishes. aboutents made it clear all kinds of things that i was not to make any difficulties, i
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was not to get into trouble, i was not to call attention to myself and i was to be a good girl at all times. i've heard from lots of white kids at central that they were told to just a out of everything . some of the white kids did try prevent -- too efriend theto br harassmentost of the happened in gym class where kids did see it and i think a lot more people saw things and talked about it at home then we toe known about, but i have say that this was a part of the strategy of the school board,
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some -- blossost governor and you thought that successfully integrating the schools would make that happen. he made it clear to his staff and his school board and to the faculty at central they were not to talk about what happened inside that school. harry ashmore later the moment the fact that he did not make any of this public. when ashmore and his reporters did know some of what was going on which was just around us. i do not know how those kids turned out to be normal human beings, and they all are. the reason it has not been
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talked about and no one knew that was suppressed and the newspapers do not print it. here.have a question you have spoken about the historical and cultural circumstances in which this took place. . was there a larger cultural setting in the united states that contributed to the -- to the dynamics of what happened in little rock. segregated schools in new york, we have segregated schools in chicago or detroit, is that not an important part? elizabeth: i am interested to hear you say that with a northern accent. it is true that this is not a southern problem area -- this is
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not a southern problem. it stems from the racism and the heart of white america. question? not asked a is it to readlt the primary sources, even though as you have described you were ignorant -- it is hard for me to believe you did not hear from friends, segregationist views, whatever, opinions of this civic
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leader versus that. tothat an issue, do you have fight it consciously, that is my first question. my second question is that now your baby is out, you would share how that group has responded to your baby? among which you were raised, the little girls that were supposed to be seen and not heard and who did not know that all this was going on? the first question raises the issue that every historian has to deal with of objectivity, is there such a thing. art we all prejudiced and biased, don't we all have our preconceptions. because similar bills in the past have been scored by similar cbo with similar
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provisions. they are afraid. they are afraid the public will hate this bill so they are trying to rush it through in the dark of night. we want, above all, a bill that protects average americans, not slashes the health care they need, whether the governor or washington tries to do that. it is wrong. we want to work in a bipartisan process to make things better. we want the house, the president, republican leadership to stop pressuring those who want to come up with a bipartisan solution to refrain from doing so.
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>> i cannot believe that group would have protected those black students. you said it was a big mistake.
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i am going to look at it in a circumspect way and i'm concerned that position that you came up with after all this study worries me. >> i do not assume that position in the book. i do not argue either way in the book. thoughwas arguing about st is that- the 101 the use of the army was so polarizing, maybe i'm naive about the ability of those troops to overcome their prejudice and function as they were ordered to do, do you think they would not have? >> i know they would not have. eisenhower did not ask me. >> hold on, you already asked a question. here, betsyne right
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is going to be signing books. thereeone told me that was a high school in little rock as the the same time central high school was integrated quietly. it you find that to be true and -- or just a fable? elizabeth: charleston high school was integrated and fayetteville. it was so quiet i never heard about it. >> i think i'm going to have to take a different view than the gentleman that just spoke.
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i was an intern at this time at and as you school know the medical college was integrated in 1948 and it was the first school in the south do that. in 1956 a new university hospital was completely , iegrated, patients, staff was federalized by president eisenhower in a medical unit and we had no problems whatsoever about obeying the commanders and carrying out our duty. we lived in very different worlds and i lived in a world in 1956 that in my microcosm was integrated, and there were no problems. ladies and gentlemen, thank you also much for coming.
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-- thank you all so much for coming. on history bookshelf, here from the country's best-known american history writers of the past decade. and you can watch any of our programs at any time when you visit our website on you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. tonight on lectures in history, a temple university professor teaches a class on the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970's and how it impacted consumer and production practices. here is a preview. in the 1970's there is an idea that we are going to continue to consume but we are going to do it in an environmentally sensitive way. there is an increasing claim by
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corporations that their products are environmentally sensible. in 1986, only 1% of consumer products on the market made an environmental claim. 1989, 10%p to 4% in by the mid-1990's, but in household products about 25% of roddick's lame to be good for the environment. it is hard to tell whether these products are good for the environment. you know this if you go danny supermarket, you go down the aisle and there is the organic things and the safer the environment things and there is small print on the label but it is hard to judge these cases. there are certainly things that were fraudulent in this respect. >> watch the entire program at 8:00 and midnight eastern on lectures in history. american history tv, only on c-span3.
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>> this year marks the 60th anniversary of little locke high school. -- of little rock high school. in 2000 seven, we took a tour with the daughter of one of the little rock nine. this is about 30 minutes. spirit: i am park ranger at the us store site. story is that my mother, minnijean brown is one of the little rock nine, the name coined by the media for the first black students to desegregate at the high school. the ground you're standing on became world-famous in 1957 because the first black students walked up the steps. exhibits put the crisis in the context of the greater civil rights movement. they began with the institution of slavery


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